Summary: Lois with the flu and the boy in blue as midnight, December 31, approaches.
"Ahh … ahhhh … chooooo!!!" No, not again, she thought. Blast this cold—or whatever it was she had. With her luck she probably caught Jimmy's flu. Damn, now her nose was running. Her eyes hurt. Oh, no, I hope I'm not running a temperature, she thought, holding the back of her hand to her forehead. She had felt chilled when she woke up that morning, and now she was starting to feel warm—very warm.
No—not now! If she couldn't go to the party tonight she'd slit her wrists, that's all there was to it. She never missed Perry's New Year's Eve bashes. They were so much fun—no dates required, single persons encouraged to attend. You just never knew what to expect from Perry White. One year an Elvis impersonator entertained (of course); another time he had a magician; last year several of the staff were coerced into performing (herself included). Alice made the best New Year's punch (although she refused to share her recipe with ANYONE), and the food was always out of this world. Thinking about what she would miss sent her into a holiday depression.
"Choo!" Holding a tissue to her nose, she began searching her medicine cabinet for something, anything, to at least get her through the rest of the day. No luck. No cold medicine, no more Kleenex, no aspirin. Damn, she'd have to go out into the cold and snow. There was a drugstore a couple of blocks away, so at least she wouldn't have far to travel.
Between sneezes and coughs, she somehow managed to bundle up for the expedition. First, long winter underwear (thank goodness she still had them); then a warm sweat suit, ski socks, heavy boots; finally her ski parka…tousle cap…wool scarf tied around her neck to keep the hood on her jacket from blowing off, and her ski gloves. Who'd have thought this stuff would come in handy, she mused. She hadn't skied in ages, but was glad she kept her equipment and clothes.
She headed for the door, but stopped suddenly. Bathroom! Geeze, hell of a time for nature to call. This must be what mothers go through with little kids, she thought, heading toward the other side of her apartment.
Twenty minutes later, and dressed once again, she reached for the doorknob, and realized she didn't have her money or car keys. If I forget one more thing, I'm going to jump into the Hobbs River, she moaned. Back to the bedroom—grabbing her forgotten items (come on, Lois, get with the program), she headed for the door. So far, so good.
She made it as far as her car, when she discovered she had a flat. Oh, no. Nobody gets flat tires in the winter—except me! And I can't change the tire—not in this weather, and not the way I feel, she thought. In frustration, she kicked the tire. "Owww!" she yelped, hopping around on one foot. "I don't need this!" She directed her anger at a pile of snow—"Urrrggghhh". Dammit, she thought, the garage is closed on New Year's Eve, and it will be impossible getting a taxi—I'll have to walk to the drugstore. Great…
Trudging through the snow, all she could think about was how sick she felt, and how much worse she'd be by the time she got back to her apartment. It seemed to take forever, but she finally made it. The drugstore was fairly empty, with only one cashier on duty. Lois grabbed a basket and headed for the cold medicine rack. She found day-time cold medicine, night-time cold medicine, antihistamines, aspirin, Kleenex, cough drops, Vitamin C tablets, lotion for sensitive skin (her nose was as red as the cold medicine she had in her basket, and it hurt like hell); a TV guide and a novel she'd been wanting to read; oh, yes…one more thing…Double-Fudge Crunch Bars—now where were they? She spied the cashier munching on one of her favorite foods.
"S'cuse me, where are the Crunch Bars?" Lois asked the girl behind the counter, when she couldn't find them in their usual place.
"Oh, I'm sorry, we're all out," she said sheepishly.
"What? You can't be…I'm sick…I have to have them!" Lois looked so pathetic, the cashier held out the half-eaten bar to her.
"You've got to be kidding! No, that's okay—I'll pass."
"You really look awful. You must have that three-week flu everybody's getting." The cashier offered her sympathy.
"Oh, thanks, just what I wanted to hear." Lois was not happy. She waited for the girl to ring up her bill, paid for her purchases with her credit card, and steeled herself for the walk home.
The wind had picked up, and it was slow going. There wasn't that much snow, but it was getting harder to see. She had to stop often to wipe her nose and re-tie her scarf. By the time she made it back to her apartment, she knew she was in the middle of a full-blown case of the flu—Olsen's flu! She had a feeling when he stopped to talk to her at her desk the other day she'd get whatever disease he had. He sneezed and coughed all over her, even after she gave him half of her tissues, and begged him to please be sick somewhere else. I'll kill him, she thought miserably.
As she entered her apartment, a wave of heat passed through her body. She definitely had a temperature. She checked the time—3:00. Maybe if she took some medicine and lay down for a while she might feel well enough to go to the party. After taking liquid medicine and aspirin, and armed with her book, Kleenex, and a cup of tea, she snuggled into bed, still wearing her socks and long underwear (I feel like a hibernating bear, she thought).
She had almost dozed off, when the phone rang. Reaching for the snooze button on her alarm clock, she was startled when the ringing continued. Now she was awake. The phone…someone's got a lot of nerve…"hello"…
"Lois, is that you?" It was Clark. "You sound awful. Don't tell me, you have the flu? Does this mean you won't be going to Perry's party? He sounded concerned, and terribly disappointed.
"Oh, Clark, I'm so sorry. I feel like I've been run over by a truck…I don't know if I'll feel okay in time to go. It's been an awful day. My car has a flat, and I had to walk to the drugstore…"ahh, ahhh CHOOO!" Right into his ear!
"Whoa—you could break an eardrum if you're not careful!"
"Wait till I get my hands on Jimmy…I'm surprised YOU'RE not sick," she said.
"Uh, flu shots—always get them…never get sick. I'd better warn Mr. Olsen you're on the warpath. Look, why don't I come over and…"
"No, please, I look awful, and feel worse. I wouldn't be very good company." She started sneezing again.
"Bless you! Now I won't take 'no' for an answer. I'll be over shortly. Bye!" With that he hung up.
"Clark…Clark…darn you…why me?" She slammed the phone on the cradle. She didn't want any visitors. She recuperated better if left alone. Pulling the covers over her head, she soon drifted off to sleep.
Knock! Knock! The noise seemed to be emanating from some- where in the distance. Still groggy, she finally realized someone was at the door. Aw, gee, Clark—already? She dragged herself out of bed, forgetting how she was dressed, and barely made it to the living room. Unlocking it, and standing behind the door as she opened it, she saw it was indeed Clark, holding a bag, and…what was that wonderful aroma?
"Mmm, cute Lois. Like your Damart's!" He grinned when he saw her. The clinging material left nothing to the imagination.
"For heaven's sake, close your eyes…ahh, choo!…while I get a robe on." Too late, he thought mischievously.
"I'll just be in the kitchen. Brought some of my mom's chicken soup for you. You'll feel better in no time!" he called.
Coming out of the bedroom, wrapped in a thick chenille robe, she lifted the lid on the insulated container. Still hot…hmm!
"Chicken soup? Your mom's? But…"
"Remember, my parents have been visiting for a couple of days? She made some for me just before they left. Sit down, I'll get it for you."
"I have to tell you, chicken soup never works for me." She sat down, propping her head on one fist. She started nodding off again.
"Lois, wake up! I don't want you falling into your soup." He placed a steaming bowl in front of her.
"Huh…oh sorry…must be all the cold stuff I took." She started to eat the soup, skeptical of its medicinal benefits. It did taste good, though, she had to admit. Before she knew it, she had eaten the whole thing. Clark just sat there, grinning at her.
"You know, I've never seen such a red nose."
She glared at him. "Oh, thank you very much. I didn't want you to see how awful I looked. I feel bad enough." She wanted to hit him with her spoon, but thought better of it.
"Hey, look, we're friends—I can handle it." Oops, not exactly the most comforting thing to say. Placing his hand on her forehead, he commented on her fever. "I think you'd better get back to bed. You're pretty warm. Maybe I'd better stay with you. If you get worse, you might have to make a trip to the emergency room. I don't want you to get pneumonia."
She shook her head. "I'll be okay. The soup helped, really." She stood up, but felt light-headed. She sat down again, not daring to walk. "Sorry, I'd better wait a minute before I try to get to the bedroom." She covered her face with her hands. "I can't believe this. I was looking forward to that party so much."
Before she realized what was happening, he had picked her up, and was on his way to her bedroom.
"Clark Kent, put me down!" She tried to wiggle out of his arms, to no avail.
"Sorry, no can do!" He gently sat her on the bed, and helped her out of her robe. He lifted the covers, and tucked her in as if she were a child. "I'd better call Perry and tell him he'll be minus two guests."
"No you don't. You can't miss this party. He'll be very disappointed if you're not there. If you could just tell him how awful I feel, and how bad I look, he'll understand. You can tell me all about it tomorrow—okay?"
"Lois, if you get worse and I'm not here, we'll both regret it."
"Look, don't worry about me. I'll be okay, really. It's getting late. The party starts at 9:00. I've got everything I need right here. And I've got the phone right by the bed. I'll call you at Perry's—okay?" She was adamant, and Clark knew there was no arguing with her. He kissed her forehead, and frowned when he noticed she was still very warm.
"Bye, Lois. Please don't forget to call!" She nodded and dismissed him with a wave. She laid her head down on the pillow, and closed her eyes as she heard him leave.
The party was in full swing. Perry was quite disappointed Lois couldn't be there. He wanted Clark and Lois to start the new year off right—he had saved some mistletoe just for them! Instead, a recently hired female reporter was hitting on Clark, and he was rather embarrassed by the whole thing. Jimmy was scowling because he'd "seen her first." Alice's punch was working its magic all right—all bad! Perry figured it was time to rescue Clark.
"Say, Clark, Lois hasn't phone yet—would you like to call her to see how she's doing?"
"Thanks, Chief. Oh, boy, it's almost 11:00—I hope she's okay." Clark turned to Jimmy and said, "Hey, Jimmy—would you keep this young lady company? I have to call Lois." Jimmy brightened up considerably at the offer.
"Sure, C.K., take your time!"
Using the phone in the White's den, Clark tried several times but couldn't get a response. Lois wasn't answering her phone.
"Perry, I'm going to see if Lois is all right. She's not answering, and I'm getting worried."
"Sure, Clark. Let me know how she is, okay? Sorry you have to leave." Perry put his arm around Clark's shoulder, and Alice pressed a plate full of goodies into his hands.
"For Lois. I know she wouldn't pass up my hor d'oeuvres for anything. Take care of her!"
Clark thanked the Whites, said his good-byes, and hurried off into the night. He stopped first at his apartment, quickly transformed into his alter-ego, and in a blur was gone.
Flying swiftly to Lois's building, he hovered at her window, but didn't see anything unusual. Pushing the window open (thank goodness he had the foresight to unlock it earlier in the evening— just in case), he stepped into the room. It was quiet. Too quiet. Checking her bedroom, he found her—on the floor…out cold!
"Lois, wake up. Lois, can you hear me?" He picked her up, afraid that something was seriously wrong.
"Uh, what happened? Oh, my head. I think I got dizzy, and passed out…Superman! What are you doing here?" She looked a little dazed, but was coherent. No bumps on her head—she appeared to be okay.
"Well, Clark asked me to check up on you. He was afraid something was wrong when you didn't answer the phone." He helped her to the bed. Picking up her robe, he held it for her while she put it on.
"That was very sweet of him. I think it's the flu that made me dizzy. That and all the medicine I've been taking. Say…what time is it?"
He glanced at her clock. "Oh, about 11:30. Why?" As if he didn't know.
"Well, it is New Year's Eve, and you should be with someone you care about when the clock strikes 12:00, you know." She smiled at him, and tried to stand up. Not a good idea, she thought, dizziness overtaking her once more.
He caught her before she fell, picking her up in his arms.
"Lois, did you know your nose is really red? It must hurt like crazy!" He couldn't resist teasing her, just a little.
"Oh, great. First Clark, now you…" She looked a little embarrassed, and more than a little hurt.
"I'm sorry, I couldn't help it. Just checking to see if you still had your sense of humor." There was a twinkle in his eye. "Well, where would you like to welcome in the New Year? Here? In the living room?"
She looked into his eyes. "Let's watch it happen on TV— okay?"
"Sure." He carried her into the living room, and set her down gently on the love seat. Handing her the remote control, he grabbed an afghan and tucked it around her. She turned the television on, switching to one of the major networks that was broadcasting live from Times Square. It was almost 11:45.
"A penny for your thoughts, Lois."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I was supposed to be at a party tonight. Funny how things work out."
"I hope you're not disappointed that I'm the only one sharing New Year's Eve with you."
"Oh, no. I'm really glad you're here. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather be with." (Except Clark, she thought). She took his hand. She was still warm, but not like before.
"I think your temperature is starting to come down. I'd hate to think of your spending New Year's in the hospital."
She wondered why he would say that. Oh well, he's just being kind. But how did he know about her temperature… oh, yeah, he talked to Clark. She glanced at the television; it was nearly 11:50.
"Hmm, aren't you supposed to celebrate with champagne, or something?" he asked.
"Yes, but considering how I feel, and all the medicine I've taken, that would NOT be a good idea," she responded. Oh, but any other time…she thought.
"Well, what do you have?"
"Let me think—maybe ginger ale. I'm not sure what's in the refrigerator. There's glasses in the cupboard." She pointed to the right.
He checked the refrigerator, and found a couple of cans of his favorite cola. This'll do, he thought. He quickly found the glasses (thanks to his handy x-ray vision), and poured the drinks for them.
"Hurry…it's almost midnight," she called. He returned to the living room, glasses in hand. Setting them on the coffee table, he sat beside her and gathered her into his arms.
"Oh, my…" she whispered, taking her eyes away from the program, and focusing on his handsome face. In the background she could barely hear the program's host counting backwards as the glowing ball started to make its descent. She was concentrating on the man at her side. She forgot her cold, and how she must look to him, and searched his eyes for some encouragement.
"10—9—8…" So close, and yet…
"7—6—5…" He tipped her head up…
"4—3—2…" Their lips met…
"1! Happy New Year everybody!" the host announced to the world.
"Happy New Year, Lois," Clark whispered, pulling away from her reluctantly, as fireworks lit up the sky in Metropolis, and as their own sparks filled the apartment.
"Happy New Year, Superman," she said, returning his kiss, and secretly wishing Clark a happy one, too.
Taking her in his arms once more, Clark silently made a wish, and though dressed as the superhero, kissed her as his human counterpart, not wanting to ever let her go.
"Ahh…chooo! Oh, no." The magic was broken. She thought she'd just die…but all she did was blush profusely and dab a tissue to her nose.
Superman laughed. "Don't worry, Lois, I won't get sick. But you should go to bed!" He made a move to pick her up, but she stopped him.
"Let's not waste our drinks. I propose a toast. To a promising new year!" She raised her glass to him.
"To whatever fate has in store," he replied, smiling at her, and raising his glass in return. They drank, never taking their eyes from one another. When they finished, he took the glasses back to the kitchen, and returned to carry her back to the bedroom.
He tucked her in, making sure she was comfortable and had everything she needed before he said good night. "Clark will check on you tomorrow. He'll be happy to see your fever has broken, and that you'll be okay." She smiled her thanks.
"I'm so glad you stopped by when you did—this has been quite a New Year's celebration."
"I'll say! I won't forget it either. Now, good night—get some sleep." He kissed her one last time, then left quickly through "their" window.
She reached over to turn out the light. "Happy New Year, Superman—Happy New Year, Clark. I wonder which one of you I'll be spending New Year's Eve with next time?" she mused as she settled in for a peaceful night's sleep.